Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 09, 2005
Release Date: April 19, 2005

Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
Come along and join Kitty, Mimmy, Badtz-Maru, Pochacco, My Melody and Dear Daniel as they re-tell your favorite classic tales in their own adorable style. This new Hello Kitty collection gives fans a chance to experience the original Japanese audio track, the first time a Hello Kitty feature has done this in the U.S.!

The Review!
Hello Kitty and friends return for six more classic tales done in Sanrio style that will likely delight young children.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language format. This is the first time that the series has been dubbed by the people at ADV Films so it was interesting to hear previously familiar voices being done by another set of familiar voices but since we were letting our kids watch this we went with the English mix all the way through. The show isn't anything really outstanding when it comes to its audio but it does have a good stereo mix, particularly for the music and opening vocal, that gives it a good warm feeling. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Though listed with numerous copyrights on the package, I believe these are the newest episodes from 2004. The transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being that it is Hello Kitty, the materials here are very bright and colorful in nature and go for a mix when it comes to the design, where some backgrounds look like they were crayoned while others are full solid feels. Each of them maintains a great solid look to them with no noticeable blocking or pixellation to it. The transfer is also very clean when it comes to areas such as cross coloration and aliasing and is pretty much pristine across the board. The opening and closing segments have their credits translated into English which isn't a surprise but that appears to be the only difference between this and the original.

Going with as cute and colorful an image as possible, a couple of large circles make up the bulk of the cover while the background has all sorts of small colored circles lined up. Inside the two main circles we get the series name and volume number as well as an absolutely adorable picture of Hello Kitty dressed up as a bumblebee surrounded by flowers. The back cover has a few shots from the show and a couple of sentences about the basic idea of the release. The complete listing of episode titles is included as well as a couple of character shots. The discs production information is easy to check out as is the very clearly listed information in the technical grid. The insert for this release is essentially a two sided advertisement for the other Hello Kitty releases.

I was glad to see that this is a kid friendly release in that after the load-up trailers and company logo it went right to the show itself instead of to the menu. The menu layout, which comes up at the end of all the episodes or whenever you key the button for it, is a very basic piece that has a theater stage in all pink with the episode selections in the middle. The bottom set of navigation has things such as the languages and extras, all of which is set to a brief bit of music from the show. Toss in a little bit of animation with some bows and it's a very simple but effective menu. Kids don't care about menus anyway. Access times are nice and fast and the disc did read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While my Sanrio phase has long since passed, I can still get a bit of enjoyment out of watching these characters act out some of the classics of children's literature. This release has its pluses in a couple of areas just like the other volumes in that it's the first time it's a bilingual release, which means we get to hear some popular voice actors tackle the roles at long last, as well as the first time that ADV Studios got to handle the dub for it. The result is that both tracks have a lot of great material to them.

The tales for this round, a full six of them, are closer to the original material than a lot of shows in the US typically do. There's a bit more rough and raw edge to them, as rough and raw as Hello Kittty can get of course, but it doesn't feel as sugary sweet as what we see during a lot of other shows. Having children between the age of two and five now, I'm subjected to a lot of kids cartoons and you can see these tales done quite often, but rarely as close as these seem to be. The stories are all morality plays at their core and that part of the show is very much made obvious at the end of each episode and it was surprisingly easy to get my kids to essentially say what it was. I wasn't sure whether they'd get into Hello Kitty at all, particularly five year old, but she ended up sitting just as enthralled as the two year old for the seventy-five minutes that this show runs.

In particular, I liked the Country Mouse and Town Mouse story, especially in how slanted it is in favor of the country mouse's home and way of life. It's easy to see this as a tale to tell farm kids to get them to not want to move to the city and reduce the labor available. I also rather liked the Nutcracker story in this one since it made such a quick connection for my eldest once the name Drosselmeyer came up as she remembered that from Princess Tutu and made the story connections rather quickly. The tales overall are quick and to the point as each runs about half an episode in length and they really are bare bones versions of the originals but even with that little amount of time they're still able to maintain the core of the story and what you're supposed to take from it.

Listening to it in English for our primary session since the girls wanted to watch it, I was once again impressed with just how much fun everyone seems to have with the show. It reminds me of how the actors were with Goemon in that they knew they were doing something different and had different expectations about what the end result should be and they pull it off well. I'm continually impressed with just how good Monica Rial is with Hello Kitty and the trio in general with the opening and ending songs. Everything just clicks right with this dub and if you're a fan of some of these actors, you really owe it to yourself to see something like this just so you can see their range.

In Summary:
Hello Kitty's Animation Theater certainly has its own market and there's really little crossover with anime fans that I can find but there are certainly things with this release that will draw some of them in. If you have kids, this is certainly something that's fun for them to watch and has numerous tales they're likely already familiar with. It does feel a little more rough than the highly sanitized shows that you find elsewhere on the dial but they're still a far cry from the original morality plays. This is a fun little show that I get to enjoy with my kids and in both languages. It's cute and warm and fuzzy but it won't change your world. But it just might brighten a child's world by several notches.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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